Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ten Minute Toddler Crafting

I've been trying to do more crafting with the little girl these days. Not only has she been missing out on the wild and messy fun side of creativity, but she hasn't had as many opportunities to practice her important fine motor skills as I'd like.

I'm finding it a little challenging. One is not born knowing how to swipe a glue stick, and I find myself being absurdly anxious about it. To which I tell myself: Oh just stop! Perfect is not the point!

My number one task: Relaxing enough to let my natural neat-freakness go while the little girl makes creative messes without my visible or audible complaint.

Her number one task: Figuring out how things fit together. You mean this goes on there? And then what? Oh, it looks pretty, yes. And then something else will stick to it? Get out!

Some of our artsy projects:

Crayons on Table or Easel
We've tried regular crayolas, washable crayons, and large, triangular washable crayolas. I like the washable aspect, but even the regular ones have been fun. We have taped pieces of paper to her little table, but now that she has an easel, that's even easier to scribble daily. And she's been wanting to learn a writing grip. She calls the triangular crayons "pens" and asks us to "help hold it." She then tells us, "Ah signing my name," which I think is a take-away concept from the book, Little Bear's Friend. (After his friend, Emily, gives Little Bear a pen, his mother teaches him how to hold it so he can learn to write his name.) We've also been practicing making "M" lines up and down and circles. (That's had minimal progress so far, but you know... baby steps.)
Pros: Immediate feedback, immediate color, immediate gratification. It does not matter how you hold it.
Bonus: Results can be used for thank you notes.
Cons: Non-washable waxy color may end up under fingernails or in odd places like books or walls or car seat straps.

Round Ink-Paints
These are water soluble inks contained in a colorful ball shape with a little brush sticking out. The ball shape is supposed to be easier for little hands to hold, but she's been finding them hard to direct. The little brushes end scraping the paper sideways rather than head on because of the way she's holding them. She was also mightily interested in the brushes themselves (a stiff acrylic), and would finger the bristles repeatedly, getting inks all over her fingers. But we tried pressing her ink-stained fingers onto the paper to make finger prints, and making blobs of ink on paper folded in two for Rorschach-like designs.
Pros: Bright, no-spill colors, very easy clean up with NO color residue.
Cons: Sometimes hard to get the ink started and not as easily directed as a pencil shape.

Draw the Face
I drew largish circles on a piece of paper and talked her through the parts of the face, drawing as I went. She knows all the parts and enjoyed the naming parts. Then I had her try to approximate the locations on a fresh blank circle herself. Scribble, scribble. Well, maybe I need larger circles or she needs more practice. Oh, well. It was good for a few minutes at the car mechanics'.
Pros: Quick and easily adapted to the materials on hand.
Cons: She may not be up to the task. (Yet!)

Stickers in Shapes
This was another project I just winged after reading about it. I drew a heart shape on a piece of paper and had her place numerous small stickers inside the shape. She did not quite understand the concept of placing them inside the lines, but she had the concept of placing them, if not placing them in a particular place.
Pros: It's easy to press stickers to stay, and it's good practice placing within a shape. Not much prep work required other than having stickers available.
Cons: One could go through a lot of stickers.

Glue Sticks and Tissue Paper Collage
I finally found the new glue sticks I'd bought, and pulled out the box of colorful tissue paper scraps I'd prepared earlier, and a piece of paper upon which to stick them. Then we had a short tutorial on how to apply the glue via stick, how to pick a piece of tissue, place it where there was some glue, and press it down. It was harder for her than you'd think. She wanted to hold the glue stick and draw with it. The glue made a pretty purple streak which faded as it dried. I had her stick her finger on it. Oh! You mean it's sticky? She did chose her own tissue pieces and where to place them, but the matching of location and sticky spot was a point of confusion, not to mention why we were doing this at all. Although the activity was mostly a mystery to her, it was a start!
Pros: Practice making creative decisions and applying the glue. Easy to prep ahead. No end result expected other than sticking things on paper.
Cons: Glue can end up in hair, on table, etc. Selection constrained by what materials one can find.

Gingerbread Cookies
This was mostly an exercise in handling dough. At that time, it was mostly about squashing balls flat and rolling "snakes," and pressing currents into cookie shapes before baking.
Pros: Edible modeling medium. Lesson in dough > cookie transformation. Did I mention it was edible?
Cons: May want to eat raw dough.

I'm finding that when working with toddlers, it helps to not only tolerate a mess, but to prepare ahead, and to plan for a short activity. At least with us, it give the little girl maximum time to to play and explore the activity without too much frustration, and before she loses interest or gets overwhelmed. Sometimes one can move only in babysteps. At least by taking small steps, I tell myself, you eventually get somewhere different! So it's still good. And hopefully, fun!

The website Kids Craft Weekly has been a recent source of inspiration. I am wanting to make sparkly glitter bugs next, maybe in a heart shape for Valentine's Day.

Other ambitions: fingerpainting, painting with real brushes and real paint, stamping with paint, making valentines-theme crafts (colored cellophane to sticky clear paper, etc), using real glue (gasp!), and somebody was making making soft pretzels recently, so we want to, too (yum!). I have some good inspirations these days.

Now must find or make craft smock!

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